Hulu Buries YouTube With 4x More Ad Views – Are Advertisers Afraid of YouTube?

YouTube LogoI’ve read the latest press release from “comScore Video Metrix, which says that 180 million U.S. Internet users watched online video content in August 2011 for an average of 18 hours per viewer. In other words, 85.8 percent of the U.S. Internet audience viewed online video that month.

I’ve also looked at the top 10 video content properties by unique viewers. Google Sites, driven primarily by video viewing at YouTube.com, ranked as the top online video content property in August with 162 million unique viewers. VEVO ranked second with 62.3 million and Facebook.com ranked third with 51.7 million viewers.

In addition, I’ve reviewed the top 10 YouTube partner channels ranked by unique video viewers. The data revealed that video music channels VEVO (with 60.6 million viewers) and Warner Music (with 30.9 million viewers) assumed the top two positions. Gaming channel Machinima ranked third with 17.7 million viewers.

But, I needed to double-check the list of the top 10 video ad properties by video ads viewed that was buried near the bottom of the press release. Americans viewed more than 5.6 billion video ads in August, with Hulu generating the highest number of video ad impressions at 996 million. Tremor Video ranked second overall (and highest among video ad exchanges/networks) with 764 million ad views, followed by Adap.tv (720 million) and BrightRoll Video Network (603 million).

As Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) asked in the Men in Black (1997), “Anything about that seem unusual to you?

Hulu, which ranked No. 9 in August with 26.4 million unique viewers, also ranked No. 1 that month with 996 million video ad impressions. But YouTube.com, which ranked No. 1 in August with close to 162 million unique viewers, wasn’t even ranked in the top 10 in video ad impressions.

If you drill down into the data, then Hulu is delivering 38.1 ads per viewer, who is visiting Hulu for an average 6.3 sessions a month, each of which lasts an average of 30.5 minutes. Since the average online content video is 5.3 minutes long, this means Hulu is delivering more than 6 video ads and less than 6 online content videos during the typical session.

In contrast, YouTube says it is monetizing over 3 billion video views per week globally. But YouTube also says over 3 billion videos are viewed a day. If you do the math, then only one out of seven videos viewed on YouTube is being monetized.

So, either Hulu has one hell of a sales team, or advertisers are afraid of YouTube. Or perhaps that why Google was among the top bidders trying to buy Hulu?

Now, what do I think is the truth? I think advertisers are limiting themselves to running advertising against only "premium" video content. But viewers are watching “popular” video content. Whether it's produced by amateurs or professionals, it's all just video content to viewers.

This means that advertisers are making a distinction without a difference. Does it really matter if talented and entrepreneurial YouTube partners are building the next generation of media companies in bedrooms, garages, or studios across the globe?

In addition, a number of advertisers limit themselves to running advertising against only “scripted” content. But, more than half of YouTube video views are for videos that are over six months old. So, if you are nervous about running advertising against unknown user-generated content, all you need to do is watch it ahead of time.

That’s my take, but I could be missing other factors. Why do you think YouTube has more than 6 times more unique viewers than Hulu, but Hulu has more than 4 times more video ads than YouTube?